Thursday, February 05, 2009

The Yankees Chase Wright to Milwaukee

The man behind the most surreal moment in the long rivalry between the Yankees and Red Sox was sent to the Milwaukee Brewers for Eric Fryer on Wednesday. Much like the Cleveland Browns winning a 3-0 football game, there was nothing pretty about Wright's 2-0 lifetime record with the Yanks.

It all started innocently enough when Wright was drafted right out of an Iowa high school in the third round of the 2001 draft. Wright pitched two years in the Yankee's rookie league, walked too many batters and was shipped to the Class A level. Wright wasn't much better his first two years in Class A. Then he seemed to come into his own in 2005. He was a combined 23-7 in 2005 and 2006.

Things started well in 2007 for the Yankees Class AA Trenton team as he started 5-2. Then Mike Mussina and Carl Pavano went on the disabled list and the Yankees needed an arm. Wright got the call.

The 2007 Yankees were floundering in April and were 5-6 despite A-Rod hitting seven homers in those first eleven games. Whispers were already starting in the papers and the Joe Torre watch had already begun. The Cleveland Indians started a little better that April and were 6-3. Jake Westbrook would pitch for the Indians and Chase Wright was set to make his major league debut at home for the Yankees.

For those of us who watched that game, we looked at each other and said, "Who?" We'd never heard of the guy. Wright gave up a run in the first inning on a ground out, but he pitched out of trouble. The Yankees scored two in the bottom of the first on an A-Rod single and a Posada sac fly. Wright got through the second without problems and the Yankees exploded in the bottom of the second to win a laugher.

The Fan remembers the Yankee announcers talking about how poised Wright looked on the mound. Don't announcers say that about every rookie pitcher? In any case, Wright wasn't spectacular, he threw 106 pitches in only five innings, gave up 5 hits, three walks and three runs. On that night, it was good enough for his first big league win. But the walks were indicative of his entire pro career.

The Yankees then headed to Boston and five days later, Wright made his second start. Boston had started hot at 12-4 and the Yankees were still scuffling at 8-8. The guys at Baseball Tonight on ESPN were starting to wonder if the Yankees just weren't going to be any good. But, no matter the records, it was the Yankees/Red Sox and the game was on.

The Yankees got their first look at the new Red Sox pitcher from Japan, Daisuke Matsuzaka. The Yankees didn't seem impressed and took a quick 3-0 lead. They would eventually score six runs on Dice-K. Even Douglas Andrew Mientkiewicz hit a homer off of him in what was one of the longest named event of the season.

Wright survived the first two innings without a run. He walked two in the first but got two fly balls and a strike out to get out of the jam. Wright got out of another jam in the bottom of the second after giving up a walk and a double. Fortunately for him, Lugo came up with two outs and that was the end of that.

The Yankees scored two runs in the top of the third to make it 3-0 and Wright would take his balancing act out for the bottom of the third. It started okay but scary. Youkilis led off and hit a deep shot to right that Abreu tracked down. Ortiz then flew out to left. Up came Manny and the rest is history. Manny is just that kind of player.

Manny took two balls and then fouled off the third pitch. And then BOOM. He hit a monster shot to left over the Green Monster. After a little posing, he ran slowly around the bases. Next up was J. D. Drew. Drew swung through strike one, took a ball, swung through strike two and then BOOM, a homer to deep right center over the bullpen.

Next up was Mike Lowell. He took a strike and then a ball and then BOOM, another homer over the Green Monster. Then Varitek came up, took a ball and then BOOM, the fourth consecutive homer, this one also over the Green Monster.

Wily Mo Pena was up next and in youthful exuberance was probably swinging as hard as he ever had and mercifully struck out to end the inning. But by then, Chase Wright had done something that had only been done once before in Major League history, giving up back to back to back to back homers.

Wright was relieved the next inning by the immortal Colter Bean (and you wonder why the Yankees spent a gazillion dollars on Sabathia and Burnett?)

What few remember is that Wright wasn't really the goat of that game. The Yankees came back and took the lead and Torre brought in his favorite pitcher, Scott Proctor, in the seventh inning. Proctor didn't get anyone out and Lowell hit a three run homer to ice the game.

Wright went back to the minor leagues where he had a good season. But he wasn't done with the Yankees yet. He pitched one more time on September 30 in one of those games where there isn't a starter available, so the game is pitched by all relievers pitching an inning or two. Wright was the second guy out. He gave up a run in two innings on two hits and he struck out one. He got the win.

Now Wright's feat could have happened to anyone on a bad day. Pitchers have bad days. But it was the Red Sox, it was on major television. It would be reported in every newspaper and blog the following day. Wright made history that night.

Wright never got out of the minors in 2008 and now takes his major league dream to Milwaukee. Bad nights can happen out there too, but at least fewer people will be noticing.

1 comment:

Josh Borenstein said...

Getting off to a bad start in New York has been the career death knell of many a young man.